Thursday, November 30, 2006

Beijing Olympics: Always Low Prices

Beijing announces 'affordable' Olympics
Beijing promised an affordable Olympics in 2008 with the announcement today of ticket prices that are as low as a tenth of those charged at the last games in Athens.

The majority of spectators will pay no more than 100 yuan (£7) to watch the world’s best athletes under a ticketing policy that reflects the low average income of the planet’s most populous nation.

The first of 7m tickets will go on sale next year. At the bird’s nest stadium, executive seats for the opening ceremony will cost 5,000 yuan - about half the most expensive rate in Greece two years ago.

Chinese Sect Leader Executed

China Executes at Least 12 Members of a Secret Christian Sect
The leader of a Chinese Christian sect and at least 11 of his subordinates have been executed for ordering the murder of members of a rival religious group, as the authorities seek to suppress big underground churches that they deem cults.

Xu Shuangfu, the founder of the Three Grades of Servants Church, which once claimed more than a million followers in China, was put to death last week, said his lawyer, Li Heping. Mr. Li said he and Mr. Xu’s family members learned of Mr. Xu’s death on Wednesday.

The execution of Mr. Xu and two others, Li Maoxing and Wang Jun, brings to 12 the number of members of Three Grades of Servants, a secretive Protestant sect, who have been put to death since a crackdown began in 2004, the lawyer said.

The case exposed strife among underground churches as well as the determination of the Chinese authorities to crush religious groups that do not abide by the rules imposed on officially sanctioned religious organizations.

Florida Adoption Story

From China to Largo, with love
LARGO – Someday, as 16-month-old Abby Jing (meaning crystal or clear) Curtis grows up, her parents may tell her they would go to the ends of the earth for her. She will know they mean it, because they already have.

Abby’s parents, Michelle and Luke Curtis of Largo, traveled to the People’s Republic of China in September to finalize her adoption process, begun more than a year earlier. They joined a number of families from the United States choosing to adopt from China.

“I’ve always been interested in Chinese history,” said Luke, an information technologies consultant. Other than a cruise to the Bahamas, however, neither had been out of the country before.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Paging Captain Stubing...

China's rich cruise for marriage on 'love boat'
Money and marriage are modern China's twin obsessions, and would-be princess brides had their chance to pursue both in Shanghai at the weekend.

As they boarded Captain, a square-rigger decked out in pink balloons dubbed "the millionaires' love boat", they braved not only prurient onlookers and the Shanghai rain but the unseen men, selected for their wealth, who had picked them in advance from a catalogue.

The event was a match-making cruise for the rich only, a first even for China's new capitalism, and all 50 participants were granted anonymity by the organisers to save the face of any who may be rejected.

But one entrepreneur, who gave his name only as Mr He, agreed to speak to The Daily Telegraph beforehand, saying he had decided that at the age of 40 it was time to settle down and find a wife.

"My mother and my sister have tried to introduce me to girlfriends," he said. "But the problem is, if I don't like them it means lost face for their families, and that causes difficulties for mine."

It has taken the end of communism for a revolution in love and marriage to sweep China. Mr He's mother would argue for the traditional approach, whereby match-making was conducted by families.

Chen Guangcheng Retrial

Rare Retrial Begins for Blind Chinese Legal Activist
BEIJING, Nov. 27 -- The retrial of a blind legal activist kicked off in eastern Shandong province Monday, but not without some of the same courtroom tumult that characterized his first trial, which was widely denounced by human rights advocates, lawyers said.

Chen Guangcheng, who embarrassed officials last year by exposing forced abortions and sterilizations, was convicted in August of disrupting traffic and damaging property during a village protest. A Chinese court earlier this month granted a retrial, citing a lack of evidence from the prosecution.

Chen's case, however, suffered another setback Monday, according to his attorneys, one of whom stormed out of the courtroom in protest. Three defense witnesses disappeared before the trial, the attorneys said, marking the second time Chen's allies were unable to speak on his behalf. On the eve of his first trial, the defense team was detained by police and accused of petty theft...

Chen last year highlighted abuses in family planning programs around Linyi, a city of 10 million people about 400 miles southeast of Beijing. Officials, whose promotions depended on not exceeding birth quotas, had forced thousands of men and women to have abortions and sterilizations, often conducting midnight raids and beating or holding residents hostage until they complied.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Oh Yes!

Monday, November 27, 2006

Massachusetts Reunion

Drawn together
Yarmouthport fifth-grader Eva Lin Fahey, who was adopted from China a decade ago with seven other girls, got to meet her ''sisters'' for the first time as pre-teens this weekend when all the girls and their families - 39 people in total - gathered at the Cape Codder Resort & Spa for a reunion...

The girls were between 8 and 10 months old when they were adopted in 1996 through a Brookline agency, China Adoption with Love, according to Eva's mother, Jean Ciborowski Fahey. She was one of three single women who flew with five married couples from Boston to China.

In the city of Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province, the soon-to-be parents waited for the girls to be brought to them, each from a separate orphanage in the province. They came back to the United States with the girls 10 days later.

The families, all but one of whom live in Massachusetts, got together when the girls were 4, and again this year.

Connecticut Family Adopts Fourth Child From China

Guilford family finds room for 1 more
The Urbans so loved Kristen, now 10, whom they brought home from a Chinese orphanage in 1997, that they adopted Juliana, now 8, from the same orphanage in 1999 to give Kristen a sister.

In 2002, Patti Urban went to China again, to the same orphanage, and brought home Mary Kate, now 6.

"That’s it," Patti Urban avowed at the time. She and Peter had three lovely daughters who were thriving and melding beautifully into a family.

But earlier this year, Patti suggested to her husband that there was room for another child in their family."

At first, he said, ‘No way,’ but after a while, Peter said we should go for it," Patti Urban said.

And that is how, on Sept. 26, Patti and Peter Urban and their three daughters, after a whirlwind trip to China together, brought home 22-month-old Kevin.

"Kevin was born with club feet," Patti Urban said, speculating that that was why he ended up in an orphanage. "Doctors in China already had operated and corrected it before he was put up for adoption. Other than that, he’s perfectly fine. In the short time he’s been home with us, he’s learned to walk."

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Michigan Adoption Story

Adoption Associates makes links, one family at a time
Baby Yi Xiang (ee-shang) was left at the gates of an orphanage in China when she was one day old.

A red note was left by the birth mother, listing her date of birth and a "good wishes" message.

Now 21 months old, little Grace Yi Xiang Gdowik can be found toddling through her Farmington home, happy-go-lucky and the apple of her adoptive parents' eye.

"Just to see her grow -- she's just thriving," said Beth Gdowik.

Beth and her husband, Joe, decided on international adoption for a number of reasons. They knew there is a need for adoptive parents in China and their hearts led them there, working with Adoption Associates Inc. in Farmington Hills.

"There are one-and-a-half million girls in China who need to be adopted. It's hard to overlook that," said Joe Gdowik.

Florida Adoption Stories

Foreign adoption a way to 'spread love around'
The babies were sick. It took thousands of dollars and permission from two governments to adopt them.

The Morales, Franklin and Furiato families spent a year unraveling red tape and watching helplessly as their daughters spent holidays and birthdays a world away.

And they'd do it again.

"It's a blessing," said Esperanza Morales, who adopted her 2-year-old daughter, Eliana Bei Ling Morales, from the Yunnan province in China. "You love them even more because you've selected them."

Susan Furiato said she couldn't love her daughter, Mikala Yin Furiato, 2, more if she'd given birth to her.

"I look at her every day, and she takes my breath away," she said.

The Questions People Ask

Asking adoption questions requires tact
“Did you drink while you were pregnant?” “How much money did you spend on fertility treatments?” “How was your child conceived?”

Those are questions most people wouldn’t ask an acquaintance, let alone a stranger. But the questions people sometimes ask about adoption are just as insensitive, experts say.

“People ask questions for all kinds of different reasons,” said Ellen Singer, a therapist and adoption educator at the Center for Adoption Support and Education in Burtonsville, Md. “Most of the time, they don’t understand that the things they’re asking are intrusive and inappropriate.”

A local mother of two girls adopted from China tells of having a stranger ask — in front of her daughters — “Are they sisters?”

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Adoption Associates International

Adoption program has global reach
Tom Grysen went to China to paint walls and install floors. But his greatest memory was of discussing God with a young Chinese interpreter.

Grysen, a Hudsonville painter, said it was near the end of his one-week mission trip last month when the interpreter saw the opportunity to speak privately with him.

"Do you believe in God?" the interpreter asked.

When Grysen said he did, other questions followed, and he found himself sharing his faith with the woman. He said the conversation ended when he gave the woman a Bible his wife had given him.

"She clutched it to her chest and wept," Grysen recalled.

Grysen and his wife, Lori, adopted a Chinese girl, now 2, a year ago, and he said he went on the mission trip to increase his understanding of his daughter's native culture.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Texas A&M 12, Texas 7

Well, after consecutive one-pont losses at home to Oklahoma and Nebraska, this victory was very satisfying. That it took place in Austin made it all the better.

Smile...Or Else

Smiling shouldn't be a chore
It seems certain the Beijing Olympic volunteers will have "smile" as their key motto, although a global search for their slogan has yet to reveal its final result.

When the Beijing Olympic organizers began soliciting slogans for the Games' volunteer programme, they had specifically asked for the winning entry to reflect the idea that "volunteers' smiles are the best name card of Beijing," which is the slogan of the ongoing campaign in the Chinese capital that is urging residents to turn Beijing into a "city of smiles."

As a result, the words "smile" and "smiling" have found their way into thousands of the contributions that the organizers have received, including "I am your smile" from an oilfield worker and "smile while working and work while smiling" from a blind masseur.

Some local university students, who will form the backbone of the volunteers in 2008, have actually been organized to take training in flashing a smile to visitors, such as learning to "smile three metres away." But the students said that it needed a lot of practice to be able to smile three metres away with ease and calm, according to local media reports.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Ohio Adoption Story

Family Thankful For Daughters Adopted Overseas
Family has always been a central driving force behind the Thanksgiving holiday.

But for a few Tri-state families, the faces around the dinner table are changing, thanks to adoptions from the other side of the world.

Early Thursday afternoon, a pre-Thanksgiving snack brings Tonni and Kevin Jobe to the dinner table with their five children.

5-year old Olivia and 2-year old Charis were adopted from China. Charis is enjoying her first Thanksgiving in America.

"Freedom From Want"


By the President of the United States of America.

A Proclamation.

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consiousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln

William H. Seward,

Secretary of State

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Dad Writes the Book on Adoption

Local Family Celebrates National Adoption Month
"Imagine you have a puzzle that's called My Life and it's nearly complete, but there is one piece missing, a child. And without that piece you can never complete the puzzle."

For Rocky DeLorenzo, that missing piece was his 4-year old daughter Shelby.

Shelby was adopted from China by Rocky and Susan three years ago, who had tried unsuccessfully for 15 years to have a child of their own. They say now they couldn't imagine their lives any other way.

"I'm glad now that I couldn't have a child, because now we have Shelby," Susan said.

"It's joy. When she calls me Daddy, it's just unconditional love," Rocky said.

Rocky has written a book about his family's experience, offering a unique male perspective. He says he hopes to share with others the lessons his family and learned and give others hope."

A baby awaits those who persevere, as long as you don't give up the journey to be a mother and father."

A journey which Rocky, Susan and Shelby are grateful to be taking together.

For more about Rocky's book:

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Children Help Raise Money for Adoption

Children's voices help bring far-flung families together
Joel and Kirsten Wees will fly to Hong Kong early next year to adopt their sixth child and third daughter from China.

The couple decided to adopt after Joel Wees took a mission trip to China more than a decade ago. He stayed in the same hotel as families who were adopting girls and learned about China's one-child policy...

The Wees family's oldest daughter, Brianna, 13, and her friend Amy Thomas, also 13, learned about the cost of adoption - $16,000 - and wanted to help.

So they organized a fundraiser Saturday night for the Wees family and for Tim and Lisa Stults of Olympia, who are in the process of adopting 4-year-old Mai Li.

"I think it's really neat because they've already adopted two girls," Amy said of the Wees family.

Amy and Brianna had each decided on their own that they wanted to do something to benefit someone in need. It wasn't until their moms started talking that they realized they had a common goal.

Maryland Adoption Story

Couple fulfills adoption dream
With flyaway black hair and a radiant smile, 21/2-year-old Mary Sowers of New Windsor has won the hearts of her parents as much as any child born to them possibly could.

"Everywhere she goes, she just lights up the place," said her adoptive mother, Edi Sowers, beaming with pride. "She's so cute and smart that everyone wants to talk to us."

Meanwhile, Mary, who has spilled some water on the living room sofa, rushes to the kitchen for a towel."

She likes things clean," said her adoptive father, Doug Sowers.

After a process that took 22 months, longer than any pregnancy, the Sowers picked up Mary from "Half the Sky" orphanage in the Sichaun province of China on March 27. Ever since, Edi, 48, has been adjusting to life as a new mom and Mary to life in America. Mary is learning English and becoming used to being the center of her parents' lives.

GM: No Hummers For China

G.M. Plans Shift to Small Cars for the Emerging World
BEIJING, Nov. 19 — General Motors plans a shift toward building and selling more small cars after concluding that most of the growth will come in emerging markets where subcompacts and even smaller cars are most in demand, G.M. executives said this weekend at the Beijing auto show.

China’s vehicle market alone will surpass the United States market in a decade, while other Asian markets, notably India, are growing rapidly, mainly in very small, inexpensive cars, said Nick Reilly, the G.M. group vice president who is president of the company’s Asia Pacific operations.

G.M. has traditionally not been very strong at the bottom of the market, Mr. Reilly conceded, but added that, “We think we’ll have to change the strategy.”

Beijing 2008: A Communist Party "Rebranding"?

Beijing building the Olympic dream
The Beijing Olympics may be almost two years away for you, but this city lives and breathes it.

Ever since it won the bid, the Chinese capital has been straining every sinew to make the 2008 Olympics the best ever.

The stadiums rising over the Beijing skyline are cutting-edge, a firm statement about China's growing confidence on the world stage.

And it is not just Olympic architecture - subways, roads, railways and a huge new airport from one of the world's top architects are also being built.

Beijing is using the Olympics to transform itself into a fitting capital for a 21st century superpower.

First Thanksgiving

Family particularly grateful for new addition
The Ewings find it hard to put into words how thankful they are to celebrate Thanksgiving with their children, especially their youngest child.

Jocie Ewing, 2, was adopted from China last year and is celebrating her first Thanksgiving with the family. Her parents, Matt and Missy Ewing of Spartanburg, are planning to take Jocie and their other two children to visit family in Indiana this year.

The Ewings spent last Thanksgiving in China, completing Jocie's adoption. They took a riverboat ride and visited the Great Wall, but the holiday just wasn't the same.

"We went to a little pizza shop in China last Thanksgiving," Missy said. "We played darts instead of sitting down to a big dinner."

Monday, November 20, 2006

We Have a Log In Date!

We were told today by our caseworker that our dossier was logged in at the CCAA on November 13, 2006. If the current time from log in date (LID) to referral holds up (currently about 14-15 months) we expect our referral around the end of January 2008. Of course, we expected 12 months last time and it ended up being nine, so who knows? We'll keep an eye on things and see how the trend is going.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

More Book Recommendations

All children can appreciate loving stories about adoption
One bright summer day a few years ago, an acquaintance stopped by to share some good news. She was headed to China to adopt a daughter, who would join three older children. Could I recommend a book or two for her newly enlarged family? At that time there were a few; now there are many.

Here are five good titles that will resonate with all children.

Three Names of Me (Whitman, $15.95) is a small gem. The cover carries embossed Chinese letters and a striking painting of Ada. Author Mary Cummings tells how Ada was first given a name by her Chinese birth mother. Unknown but treasured nonetheless, that name is held deep in her heart. "Baby sitters" in the orphanage provided a second name, and the girl's American parents named her Ada. Gently written, this lovely picture book takes an honest look at the questions adopted children often ask. Lin Wang's illustrations are beautiful. Journaling suggestions and a ribbon place marker complete the package (ages 5-10).

Another welcome addition to this genre is Bringing Asha Home ( Lee & Low, $16.95) by Uma Krishnaswami. Arun, an 8-year old boy, longs for a sister to help him celebrate Rakhi, a Hindu holiday special to sisters and brothers. When his parents tell him a new sister is coming from India, his father's home, he is excited and impatient. The long wait for his baby is excruciating, but Asha finally arrives. Authentic chalk illustrations by Jamel Akib highlight this well-written book (ages 5-8).

Two older books about adoption that are well worth reading are I Love You Like Crazy Cakes (Little Brown, $14.95) by Rose Lewis and Tell Me Again About the Night I Was Born (HarperCollins, 16.99) by Jamie Lee Curtis.

Lewis writes as a single mom who adopts a baby from China. The newborn girls "lived in a big room with lots of other babies," where nannies take care of them, but something was missing - a mother. Far away across the ocean was a woman who was also missing something - a baby. After mountains of paperwork and a trip around the world, the two become a family. Jane Dyer's charming and realistic watercolors mesh with a heartfelt text to create a just-right book for young listeners (ages 3-6).

Deftly, Curtis tells the story of a little girl who asks constantly for the story of the night she was born. She knows what happened by heart, but her parents lovingly remember the much-anticipated phone call, the long plane trip and the first glimpse of their tiny daughter. I rarely recommend books by celebrities, but Curtis is an exception, and this is one of her best. Laura Cornell illustrates with bouncy, colorful cartoon drawings (ages 4-7).

And finally, consider a book about open adoption, Megan's Birthday Tree (Albert Whitman, $16.95) by Laurie Lears. When Megan was born, her birth mother, Kendra, gave her up for adoption and planted a tree. Every year for Megan's birthday, Kendra sends a photo of herself next to that tree. Now Kendra is moving, and Megan is worried about being forgotten. A sensitive and honest look at a complicated situation, accompanied by Bill Farnsworth's warm, full-color paintings (ages 6-10).

Nebraska Adoption Story

Interracial twins bring new dimension to American family
Jenna and Sam Goering are in the same grade in school, play with the same younger brother and sisters, and live in the same spacious farmhouse-style home in Bourbonnais, Ill.

Seven years ago, they entered their parents’ lives on the same day.

And yet, Jenna and Sam aren’t twins.

He was born in the U.S., the biological son of computer consultants Jody and Addison Goering. She was abandoned six months earlier in rural China, and first introduced to the Goerings through a string of urgent phone calls that started coming from their adoption agency just an hour after Sam’s birth.

Together, Jenna, who is Asian, and Sam, who is white, are part of a phenomenon that would have been almost inconceivable a generation ago: the emergence of interracial adoptive “twins.”

"Three Names of Me"

Mixed emotions
At last, a book has been written to help adopted adolescents from other countries explore their blended cultural identities.

When Mary Cummings and Tom Breitenbucher were preparing to adopt a baby from China 11 years ago, they named her Ada before they met her.

Cummings never dreamed that decision would be the impetus for "Three Names of Me." Her new book, which is receiving wide praise for its poetic text and soft illustrations (by Lin Wang), is aimed at girls ages 8-13 who were born in China and adopted in the U.S.

Ice Princess

Ally went to an ice skating party yesterday. This was her first time on skates and it showed. I pretty much had to guide her around the ice the whole time. Even though it looks like she's freezing in this picture, she had a good time nonetheless.

Friday, November 17, 2006

China's Supersized Military a Concern to U.S.

Rice: U.S. Concerned About Rising China
The United States has some concerns about a rising China, including a military expansion that may be excessive, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Friday.

Beijing has spent heavily in recent years on adding submarines, missiles, fighter planes and other high-tech weapons to its arsenal and extending the reach of the 2.3 million-member People's Liberation Army, the world's largest fighting force.

Its reported military budget rose more than 14 percent this year to $35.3 billion, but outside estimates of China's true spending are up to three times that level.

"There are concerns about China's military buildup," Rice told a television interviewer. "It's sometimes seemed outsized for China's regional role."

Georgia Adoption Story

A world of family
Local couple adopts twins from China, son from Guatemala

The multicultural characteristics of the Buck family are evident upon first glance at their family room, where a large picture book of China is prominently displayed on the coffee table.

There’s also the Guatemalan chess set that sits in front of the window, and a miniature folding screen nearby that is decorated with panda images.

And then there’s the pitter-patter of little feet as 2 1/2-year-old twins Christina and Anna make their way through the house.

“Our three little miracles,” Dr. Mike Buck said with a smile, referring to the two girls he and his wife Joy adopted from China a year and a half ago, and 5-month-old Dylan, who was adopted from Guatemala and finally joined the family a little over a week ago.

Joshua Zhong and Lily Nie

A article in today's Rocky Mountain News about Joshua Zhong and Lily Nie, whom I've profiled before:

Couple provide help to thousands of Chinese orphans
The Chinese script hanging on the wall of the home of Joshua Zhong and Lily Nie speaks of integrity and generosity, something the couple knows plenty about.

Zhong and Nie talk about their 11-year-old daughter, Anna Zhong, whom they adopted from China two years ago.

"We were looking through the packet information of children. Her information had not been current for two years, so we knew she had been passed by several times."

Anna was 9 years old and has a severe heart condition.

"We saw Anna's picture and said, she's sooo beautiful," Zhong said. "Several months later we brought her home. We love her."

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Oregon Adoption Story

To China, with love
Tualatin family looks forward to adopting a baby from China

They have prayed, hoped, cried and waited for their “little miracle” to come into their lives.

The Dwyers are waiting to adopt a baby from China through Plan Loving Adoptions Now Inc. (PLAN), a McMinnville adoption agency.

The Tualatin couple has a daughter, 4-year-old Ashley, and they hope word will come soon so they can travel to China and bring home the newest member of their family.

New Skyscraper in Beijing

It looks like it was designed by M. C. Escher:

Embracing Koolhaas’s Friendly Skyscraper
Set on a site that’s about as large as 37 football fields, Rem Koolhaas’s television authority headquarters in Beijing may initially seem intimidating. This 54-story tower leans and looms like some kind of science-fiction creature poised to stomp all over the surrounding central business district.

But if the five-million-square-foot building is one of the largest ever constructed, its architect sees it as a people-friendly reinvention of the skyscraper.

“Awe is not usually a condition our buildings inspire,” Mr. Koolhaas said in an interview at the Museum of Modern Art, where a show devoted to the Central Chinese Television building — known as CCTV — opened yesterday. “Amidst all the skyscrapers there, it’s relatively low. It will feel accessible.”

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Adoption and the Single Woman

More single women adopt
On the surface, it doesn’t appear that Mona Matson and Cindy Cummins have much in common. Matson lives in rural South Dakota, Cummins in Sioux Falls. As an accountant, Matson works with figures; as a teacher, Cummins works with students. Cummins is starting her 40s; Matson is preparing to leave that decade behind.

But what the two women do share is a love of children and a desire to have some of their own.

So, even though neither woman has ever married, they became mothers through adoption. Matson has two daughters; Cummins is the mother of 4-year-old Jadyn and hopes to expand her family to three next year.

Cummins' and Matson's decision is no longer rare, but the obstacles parents must clear before adopting still make it especially difficult for singles to make the leap. A recent study by the Urban Institute, a nonpartisan economic and social policy research organization, found that while women's interest in adopting increased by 38 percent from 1995 to 2002, fewer women actually followed through with the process.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Update: The Hague Convention

United States Implementing Intercountry Adoption Standards
Thousands of children in need of families will benefit, U.S. officials say

Washington -- The United States is in the final stages of implementing new, federal-level standards and protections that greatly will benefit thousands of children from around the world in need of permanent families.

The implementation of these standards and the anticipated U.S. ratification of the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoptions was discussed at a November 14 hearing before the House International Relations Subcommittee on Africa, Global Human Rights and International Operations.

The Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption is a formal international agreement designed to ensure transparency in adoptions to prevent trafficking, kidnapping, smuggling and baby-selling. The United States has signed the convention and is moving toward formal ratification in 2007.

The Intercountry Adoption Act of 2000 (IAA) is the implementing mechanism established to carry out the functions required under the convention. The IAA was enacted into law on October 6, 2000. A regulatory framework currently is being put in place to comply with the provisions of both the convention and the IAA to move the United States toward formal ratification.

In her testimony, Catherine Barry, the deputy assistant secretary of state for overseas citizens services, said that November 17 marks the deadline for adoption services to apply for accreditation under the new standards. (See related article.)

This past summer, Barry said, the Department of State signed Memoranda of Agreement (MOAs) with the Council on Accreditation (COA) and Colorado’s Department of Human Services, designating them as accrediting entities. These two entities will have the power to accredit, temporarily accredit or approve adoption service providers.

The accrediting entities are required to keep the Department of State informed of any problems, such as complaints from adoptive parents, birth parents, adoptees and other involved parties on compliance with the Hague Convention and the IAA, Barry said.

The Department of State is working closely with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) of the Department of Homeland Security. USCIS is responsible for approval of the home studies that must be prepared by accredited adoption agencies.

Lori Scialabba, associate director for USCIS’s Refugee, Asylum and International Operations Directorate, told the hearing that IAA amendments to the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Act, once they take effect, will broaden the definition of a child who may be adopted. Under the new rules, a child with two living biological parents may be adopted if the parents are incapable of providing proper care to the child and the parents have freely given a written, irrevocable release for that child’s emigration and adoption.

Representative Christopher Smith, chairman of the House Subcommittee on Africa, Global Human Rights and International Operations, said the United States adopts more children from abroad than all the other countries combined.

The number of foreign children adopted annually by American citizens, Smith said, has doubled over the last decade from 11,340 to 22,739. The top four “sending” countries over the past five years are China, Russia, Guatemala and South Korea. Only South Korea has not signed the Hague Convention.

Smith, a Republican from New Jersey, affirmed that the Hague Convention makes clear that the eligibility and suitability of prospective adoptive parents are determined by the sending country. The receiving country determines and approves eligibility and suitability through a home study of the prospective adoptive parents based on a comprehensive review of family and medical history, social environment and reasons for adoption that meet the sending country’s requirements, Smith explained.

Additional information about international adoption is available on the State Department Web site. The Web site also offers information on the Hague Convention.

A Most Resourceful Couple

I guarantee you that kid will dot the "i" one day.

Couple Auctioning UM-OSU Tickets for Adoption
An Ohio couple are selling their two tickets to Saturday's Michigan-Ohio State football game to raise money to adopt a boy from Guatemala.

Ken and Kristie Sigler have season tickets in the closed end of Ohio Stadium, about ten rows from the field. They have put their seats up for sale on e-Bay, hoping the payout helps defray some of the tens of thousands of dollars they'll need to complete the adoption.

They set the minimum bid at one-thousand dollars.

The top-ranked Buckeyes and second-rated Wolverines are both undefeated, and the winner advances to the national championship game.

Kristie Sigler says not attending the game is a small price to pay for changing a child's life.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Iowa Adoption Story

The Johnsons adopted through the same agency we did:

Chinese connection
WATERLOO --- The newborn's companions were a bottle and a bag of formula. The first friendly face belonged to an unknown person who reported the discovery.

Baby Lu Lu --- as caretakers later referred to the infant girl --- was abandoned outside, near a cement store in China's Beihai City. No sign marked the spot.

Authorities estimated the baby was a day old and took her to the Beihai Social Welfare Institution in Guangxi Province. Though better, prospects at that point were still bleak.

Halfway around the world, Jeff and Pam Johnson prayed.

The couple brought Maya Darlene Johnson home Oct. 25, slightly more than a year after she was abandoned. They began the process after attending an informational meeting at Bethany Christian Services, a nonprofit adoption and family services agency.

When they made the decision, there was no question where their baby would come from.

"We both thought of China at the same time," said Jeff, 36.

"The Lord really put it on our hearts," added Pam, 34.

Jeff works at the Target Distribution Center. Pam is an architect with Struxture Architects. When Maya arrived in Waterloo, a sign was right there on the Johnsons' front lawn. It read: Welcome Home, Maya!

"I was so ready to be a dad," Jeff said, beaming at his wife of 10 years. "This is awesome."

Georgia's China Consolidated Benevolent Association

Adopting a heritage (reg. req'd)
Group helps children know their Chinese roots

Patrick and Sally Tracy couldn't have children. They wanted them, but after almost nine years and repeated fertility treatments, the Evans couple began to run out of hope.

Then last March, as they stood in a waiting room in China's Shandong province, all of their worries and fears were put to rest.

An adoption official who spoke no English handed them two screaming 18-month-old twins, and they all flew home as a family.

It's a story that was echoed by many other families at the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association's biannual Children from China reception. Couples from all over the area gathered to share their experiences of adopting from Asia while also re-introducing their children to the culture they left behind.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Will New U.S. Congress Mean Changes in Chinese Relations?

Pelosi-led House seen not rocking boat on China
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A Democratic-controlled U.S. House of Representatives led by frequent China critic Nancy Pelosi will intensify scrutiny of Chinese trade and human rights practices, but will stop short of confrontation, American and Chinese experts said.

The Democratic Party's capture of both the House and the Senate revived concerns about new trade protectionism against China, and raised hope among rights activists for more U.S. pressure on Beijing.

Both the fears and the hopes are overblown, argue analysts, who point to vital U.S.-China cooperation on curbing North Korea's nuclear ambitions and other global problems.

"Nancy Pelosi does have a pretty strong background on China-related things, but she will now have a new level of responsibility and that may well shift the way she handles the relationship," said University of Michigan scholar Kenneth Lieberthal, who was an Asia expert in the Clinton White House.

China to come under tighter scrutiny by new US Congress
WASHINGTON (AFP) - From military strategy and human rights to labor standards and trade, China is expected to come under tighter scrutiny by the upcoming Democratic-controlled Congress.

Democratic lawmakers have complained that the dependence of the Republican administration of President George W. Bush on Beijing to contain North Korea' s nuclear ambitions has led to inevitable US compromises on the critical human rights and trade fronts.

"I think the most noticeable impact of the Congressional elections is likely to be on US China policy," said Robert Hathaway of the Washington-based Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars.

Evaluating the Republican Party's loss of control of the House of Representatives and Senate in last Tuesday's legislative elections, he said the Democrats were likely to pressure the Bush administration to be "more confrontational" with China on trade, human rights, religious freedom and Taiwan-related issues.

Chinese Not Taking Kindly to "One Dog" Policy

Beijing dog policy sparks protest
At least 200 people have protested in the Chinese capital, Beijing, against restrictions on pet dog ownership.

Demonstrators holding stuffed toy animals said new rules limiting families in the capital to owning one small dog each were inhumane.

They said a ban on larger breeds would lead to dogs being confiscated and culled. In August, a mass cull of dogs caused uproar in south-west China.

The 'one dog' policy was announced as part of a campaign to combat rabies.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

NYT Article on Virginia WIne

I haven't posted enough about Virginia wine lately, but the following article in the New York Times travel section (h/t Lenndevours) gives a brief overview of the best the region has to offer. I would disagree with their assessment that the tastings at Barboursville are "so-so", but the rest of it is spot on.

Virginia Is for (Wine) Lovers
The state has excellent growing conditions, bucolic scenery, and a damn good Petit Verdot.

Even wine snobs now admit that the Finger Lakes does a mean ice wine and that Long Island produces a number of decent Cab Francs. Next on the East Coast radar? Virginia. It’s been quietly cultivating its grapes since Jefferson’s time, and now, thanks to recent experiments with varietals like Tannat, Petit Verdot, and Chambourcin, and the promising 1998, 2001, and 2005 vintages, the state’s 100 or so wineries deserve closer scrutiny.

Temperatures are about the same in the Blue Ridge Mountains, so a trip won’t get you a reprieve from November’s chill, but there’s still some fall foliage and lots of pure southern-country-valley landscape: sleepy hills, apple orchards, and tidy little chapels. It can be a long highway drive from region to region, so pick one trail and stay there—at least for the day.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Chinese Villagers Unhappy With Eminent Domain

China village fury at 'land grab'
Chinese villagers have clashed with police after blockading a warehouse they said was built on illegally seized land, Hong Kong media reported.

Thousands of villagers in southern Guangdong province moved on the building on Wednesday as dozens of officials gathered for its opening.

Police arrived with tear gas after the villagers refused to leave, demanding an official inquiry.

Rural unrest over alleged illegal land grabs in China is a growing problem.

There are thought to be thousands of protests a year, with farmers in villages whose land has been taken often directing their anger at corrupt local officials who skim off the profits of its sale to developers.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

How Could It Be Otherwise?

1-child policy stems Chinese population
China's population of 1.3 billion people would be 400 million higher if not for the government's policy of limiting most families to one child, state media reported Thursday.

The "one-child" policy has slowed population growth and contributed positively to the country's socio-economic development, the Xinhua News Agency said, citing a family planning official.

But Zhang Weiqing, the minister in charge of the State Population and Family Planning Commission, said China needed to address the problems of an imbalanced sex ratio and an aging population, the agency reported.

The communist government has limited most urban couples to one child and rural couples to two since the 1970s to try to restrain the growth of China's population and conserve scarce resources.

Critics say the policy has led to forced abortions, sterilizations and a dangerously imbalanced sex ratio due to a traditional preference for male heirs, which has prompted countless families to abort female fetuses in hopes of getting boys.

Government statistics show that 117 boys are born for every 100 girls in China, well above the average for industrialized countries of between 104 and 107 boys for every 100 girls.

Experts have said the gender imbalance resulting from sex-selective abortions and other practices could have dangerous social consequences due to anticipated shortages of marriageable young women.

There are also concerns about China's aging population, which now exceeds 143 million, Xinhua said. The growing number of elderly will tax China's limited social safety net, especially in rural areas where the bulk of China's population live.

Zhang, who was speaking at an international workshop on population management, also said China would be willing to provide "population management training and contraceptive supplies" to developing countries, the report said.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Chinese Shoppers Visit Paris; France Surrenders

Chinese Speak the International Language of Shopping
Droves of Asians poured from several buses on a recent day at a side entrance to Galeries Lafayette, the venerable Parisian department store, and marched into its duty-free boutique beneath a “Japan Welcome” sign. But these were not the flush Japanese of yore; they were mainland Chinese, now Paris’s most sought-after tourists.

“We’re from Wuhan,” said Dina Li, 31, who was traveling with her mother.

Since China put the European Union on its list of approved tourist destinations two years ago, the volume of Chinese sightseers to the Continent has surged, and France is their top destination.

About 700,000 Chinese tourists visited France last year and the number is climbing annually. By 2020, the World Tourism Organization estimates, 100 million Chinese will make foreign trips each year, and surveys indicate that a European vacation is by far the typical Chinese tourist’s biggest travel dream.

Beijing's One-Dog Policy

I swear I'm not making this up:

Beijing issues '1 dog' per family rule
BEIJING - First it was one child. Now authorities say Beijing families will be allowed only one dog.

The restriction is part of efforts to stamp out rabies, state media said Wednesday. It follows a campaign in August in which thousands of dogs were killed in order to fight the disease.

China's capital will institute a "one dog" policy for each household in nine areas, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

"Only one pet dog is allowed per household in the zones, and dangerous and large dogs will be banned. Anyone keeping an unlicensed dog will face prosecution," Xinhua said.

WCBS's Cindy Hsu's Adoption Story

Family First: Adopting A Child
November is National Adoption Awareness Month.

A great time to get moving, if you've ever thought about adopting a child.

When I say moving, I mean talk to people who have adopted, attend an adoption conference, checkout an adoption agency informational meeting or just research on the Internet.

As I write this article on my Blackberry, I hear my 3-year-old daughter Rosie laughing in the house. It's amazing to me that we became a family a little over two years ago when I adopted her in China. I was 38 years old, single and enjoying a wonderful life, but I knew I wanted to be a mom. While I always thought I'd fall in love, get married and have children, I didn't want to give up raising a child just because Mr. Wonderful was nowhere to be found. I started talking to parents who had adopted and attended meetings of New York Singles Adopting.

Transracial Adoption

Experts divided on transracial adoption
Karen Tabor, of Rancho Mirage, adopted a girl 15 years ago who is half white and half black. Tabor and her husband are white.

The girl played with dolls of different colors -- including black dolls -- when she was younger, but otherwise there was little deliberate exposure to black culture, Tabor said.

"She's very comfortable with who she is," Tabor said. "The most important part of the identity thing was to make her feel she was beautiful, and make it seem that (her skin color) is something she would be proud of."

The girl has friends of many races at school, she said...

Christine Murphy and her husband adopted a 14-month-old girl from China in 1998, in part because the Rancho Mirage woman heard stories of biological fathers in the United States claiming custody of children after the mothers gave them up for adoption.

Murphy said she and her husband have strived to expose their child to Chinese culture, including celebrating the Chinese New Year every year with other Chinese children and teaching her about Chinese culture.

"We've brought her up to be very proud of her Chinese heritage," Murphy said.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Election Day 2006

She'll do anything for a sticker.

"Finding Joy"

'Joy' inspiring tale of adoption
November is National Adoption Month, and Hawai'i author Marion Coste's nationally published children's book comes just in time to celebrate.

"Finding Joy" tells the story of a Chinese girl given up by her birth parents, and an American woman's journey to adopt the child. The story opens with the infant's heartbroken mother and father wrapping the baby in a blanket and leaving her beneath a bridge with a note, "This is our Shu-Li. Please take care of her. No room for girls."

A stranger discovers the child and brings her to an orphanage, where caregivers offer warm milk and a soft bed. Meantime, in America, a husband and wife with grown children long for a new baby girl.


Washington Adoption Story

How many sleeps till Lucy?
Life has certainly changed for my husband, Eric, and me since we adopted our daughter, Wendy, from China three years ago. Our home is filled with a feeling of joy, warmth and a youth that we two 40-somethings are grateful for. That is until she has a meltdown, which I realized happened mostly during the threes, not the "terrible twos."

Time seems to speed by as Wendy conquers preschool, a trip to Scotland and riding her bike - albeit with training wheels. It might only be our weekly trips to her favorite restaurant, Harvest Garden, in Marysville, but we keep her connection to China as strong as we can: Mandarin lessons, Chinese calligraphy and kung fu to come (her choice, not ours).

We are blessed to have a very sweet and kind daughter. The three of us were having such a great time that it felt right to wonder if we should adopt again.

"You must be nuts," a friend of mine said. "You're too old. Don't do it."

But Eric and I had hoped for another child, so in December we applied to the adoption agency in the hopes of finding a brother or sister for Wendy

Monday, November 06, 2006

Alabama Adoption Stories

Gifts From China
2 Decatur couples become parents halfway around world

Addie Lu will make a lot of decisions about her life in America.

But her adoptive parents have already decided that she will be an Alabama fan. And although she's only 27 months old, she appears to be OK with it.

"Say 'Roll Tide,' " proud father and Morgan County Economic Development Authority President Jeremy Nails begged. "Come on Addie. Say 'Roll Tide' for Papa."

Clutching her mother's arm, Addie rolled her brown eyes, pointed in the direction of Papa, smiled and quickly said: "Waa Tide."

"Oh yes, she's an Alabama fan," Papa said

*Sigh* Brainwashing the kid already :-)

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Adoption Gathering in Florida

Families gather to spotlight Chinese adoptions
No, Elizabeth Anne Grant will tell you, she doesn't look like her fair-haired mom with the curly locks.

The slender 9-year-old girl with the straight black hair and a penchant for American Girl dolls, bicycles and the Beatles was adopted from China's Guangdong province when she was just 9 months old.

She has learned to answer nosy questions with aplomb.

"People always ask me 'That's your mom?' And I'm like 'Yeah,' " she said, smiling at her mother, Lisa Bruttell Grant of Maitland. "And they always ask me why my birth mom didn't want me, but I say 'Maybe she did want me, maybe she just didn't have the money [to take care of a child].' "

Smart kid.

Ohio Adoption Story

Lorain fire chief and wife fulfill dream with two adopted babies from China
After nearly two years of paperwork and anticipation, Lorain fire Chief Tom Brown and his wife, Stephony, finally brought home twins.

And all of a sudden, the couple's large East Erie Avenue home -- which was without children for six years -- is echoing with peculiar sounds.

Squeak, squeak, squeak, squeak ...

Summer Sky and Willow Mei, whom the Browns adopted last month from an orphanage in the south of China, officially became United States citizens on Oct. 19.

In China, all children wear shoes with squeakers in the heel. Tom and Stephony will never forget waiting for the twins and hearing all the squeaking in the next room.

Well, I wouldn't say all children. Pretty much just the ones adopted out of the country and even then, the squeakers last only for a few days, something I'm sure the Browns have already learned.

Oklahoma 17, Texas A&M 16

I'd almost rather lose by thirty than by one; it seems easier to take when your not resolved to your fate until the final minute. This time the close finish didn't fall the Aggies' way in their game last night against OU. The Sooners didn't seem to miss their star running back, Adrian Peterson, as his replacement, Allen Patrick, ran for over 100 yards for the third straight game. Even though A&M played great second half defense (again), OU was great throughout, holding Stephen McGee to 63 yards passing. The gutsy move of the game came when the Sooners converted a fourth-and-1 from their own 29 with 1:29 remaining to prevent the Aggies from getting the ball back and setting up for a potential game winning field goal. Next up for the Aggies: Nebraska.

By the way, ESPN's College Gameday was in College Station and it was good the see the Aggie fans come out and represent...and spell their signs correctly!

Saturday, November 04, 2006

China's Young People Leaving the Countryside

Rush for Wealth in China’s Cities Shatters the Ancient Assurance of Care in Old Age
BAODENG, China — If having children is a mark of wealth, Gao Shenmu and Wang Xiuying, a farming couple in their 70s, surely rank as rich.

They raised six children in this rolling, fertile countryside before China imposed its single-child policy. What’s more, as the cities of the distant east flourished and boomed, three of their four sons migrated along with millions of others, landing jobs and joining the cash economy.

But for just that reason, their very Chinese dream of security in old age, built on the next generation’s obligation to them, has badly foundered.

The sons moved, but they left their own two young children behind to be cared for. They rarely visit and collectively send just $30 or $40 a year home. Mr. Gao and Ms. Wang make do at harvest time, spending two weeks in backbreaking labor that once took them less than a week to perform.

The couple’s experience is increasingly commonplace. The chief of their hamlet put its predicament this way: “Knock on 10 doors, and 9 of them will be opened by old people.”

And across much of the Chinese countryside the situation is the same, with villages emptied of their working-age populations, leaving behind small children and grandparents.

China Rising

Here's a two minute tutorial on how China became the economic giant that it is.

Quick guide: China's economic reform
China has the world's fastest-growing major economy but it has been a rocky road from socialism to consumerism.

When Communist Party leader Mao Zedong took power in 1949 he was determined to transform China from a rural economy into an industrial giant.

Farms were collectivised into large communes and resources shifted to heavy industry, which was nationalised.

But by Mao's death in 1976 it was clear these reforms had failed, leaving China impoverished and isolated.

Sen. Sam Brownback on National Adoption Month

Sam Brownback : The gift of adoption
Several years ago my wife and I made a big decision: We decided to adopt a child. We already had three children but thought adopting a new son or daughter would be a wonderful addition to our family. We started the lengthy adoption process in both Latin America and China, figuring that given the uncertainties of international adoption, one of the two options would work out.

It was to our great surprise and joy when, within months, we found ourselves with two new members of our family. Jenna Joy, born in 1998, came to us from China, and Mark, just a few months older, is from Guatemala. Mark and Jenna bear a striking resemblance despite being from separate continents, and to this day people often mistake them for twins.

November is National Adoption Month. Adoption gives someone a chance at life, and it's an opportunity to make a sacrifice for something greater than yourself. While not without challenges, adoption has brought tremendous joy to me and my family.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Blogging and Adoption

Yours truly was interviewed for the following article. My contribution is about 2/3 the way down. For the most part, I was quoted accurately.

For Parents Who Adopt Overseas, Blogging Connects Kids to Home Cultures

Play China?

Do they know enough about baseball in China to hate the Yankees?

Selig Sees a Billion Reasons to Open a Season in China
As Commissioner Bud Selig stood on the field at Japan’s Tokyo Dome in 2004, he spoke excitedly about the importance of continuing to expand Major League Baseball internationally. Selig was not specific, but geographically speaking, he was peeking even farther west.

Eventually, Selig hopes to announce that baseball will hold its season opener in China, perhaps as early as 2008. If baseball officials arrange that, they would be staging the first major league games there a few months before Beijing plays host to the 2008 Olympics.

Bob DuPuy, baseball’s president, said in an e-mail response that the time frame was contingent on a baseball facility in China being completed. The best outcome for baseball would be for the facility to be completed in time for the 2008 opener.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Don't Look Now, But China's Rich

China's trillion dollar surplus
In November China will achieve a new milestone in its economic development when its total foreign exchange reserves reach $1 trillion.

As of 1 October, China's central bank announced that its reserves were $987bn - and they are growing by $18bn each month.

That sum is the largest holding of foreign exchange reserves in the world - and more than the annual value of economic activity in all but a handful of the world's big economies.

The huge surplus is a product of China's success as an exporter to the world.

China sells the world more than $100bn yearly in goods than it buys, with the imbalance especially marked with the US.

As a result, China receives more and more foreign currency each year, which it puts in its reserves.

But China's currency reserves are now so large that some economists fear they will unbalance the entire global economy.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

For Chinese Dogs, Size Matters

In China, a dog's life comes into vogue
BEIJING – In most cities, taking your dog for a walk in the dead of night could be seen as a personal quirk or a byproduct of insomnia. But in Beijing, it's a sure sign that the city's dogcatchers are on the prowl for illicit mutts. If you don't want your pet to end up in the pen or as protein on someone's plate, it's best to keep a low profile.

Once shunned by communist ideologues as capitalist vermin, dogs have become a firm favorite among China's fast-growing middle class and a status symbol among the well-heeled. A generation raised in one-child families is eager to bond with household pets. In Beijing, the number of registered dogs is up 16 percent this year, to 530,000, but the true dog population is likely far higher, as many animals are unregistered.

The reason is not only to avoid paying a $75 to $125 registration fee. Big dogs - those with a shoulder height of more than 35 centimeters (about 13 inches) - are banned in central Beijing. If you want to own a Labrador or Husky, two popular breeds in China, you run the risk of your prized pet being detained as an illegal breed. But regulations being what they are, some dog owners were prepared to flout them, betting that law enforcers had bigger fish to fry.

Halloween 2006

Halloween is not a whole lot different than any other day around here. Ally plays dress up with her gowns and costumes pretty much every day. The only thing is last night she went around the neighborhood collecting candy. She wanted to wear her Tinkerbell outfit, the same one she wore on her birthday. It was warm enough that she didn't need a sweater or anything, just a pink feather boa. My wife joined a few of the neighbors with their kids to form a roving gang. I stayed home and dispensed the goodies. We had a paucity of trick-or-treaters this year, so we were left with a lot of candy, in spite of my efforts to dole out two or three handfuls to the latecomers. Oh well, better to have leftovers than to be lacking and find your pumpkins smashed in the street and eggs running down the side of your house.

Army Adoption Story


Reserve major adopts baby from China
Like most reservists, when Maj. James Martin, was activated last May he left behind a family – with one caveat. He and his wife have been trying to adopt a fourth child since May 2005.

“Her name will be Claire Reagen Martin, she just turned two and she is from Guizhaou, China,” Martin said. “We started this process thinking we wanted as close to a newborn as possible, but it was taking an average of 14 months to complete an adoption.”

Martin is the operations officer for 2nd Squadron, 397th Cavalry Regiment, in Lexington, Ky., now serving as the regimental logistics officer for the 16th Cavalry Regiment at Fort Knox. Adoption is something Martin said he and his wife have thought about since his time on active duty in Korea.

Chen Guangcheng: Sentence Overturned

This is good news. Unfortunately, he'll have to endure a retrial:

China overturns activist sentence
A Chinese court has thrown out a guilty verdict against Chen Guangcheng, an activist who raised concerns about forced abortions.

"It was found that there have been serious violations in the legal procedures," said Mr Chen's lawyer.

Mr Chen, 34, was found guilty of public order offences in August, and sentenced to more than four years in jail.

His case drew international criticism, with rights advocates saying he did not receive a fair trial.

The Linyi City Intermediate Court has now quashed Mr Chen's conviction, and ordered a retrial.

Adoptive Dad Writes of His Experiences

No, not me. This guy does a much better job:

Adopting from China: Forget what you know
AVON, Ind. — I never realized I could have so much in common with someone who lived on the other side of the world.

Before traveling to China for the first time, I made certain to learn a little about the place. I wanted to know as much about their culture, language, and customs as I could. After all, soon I would be the parent of a baby that was from China, the least I could do was learn a little about her home country.

I spoke at length with other families who had endured the lengthy adoption process. I read voluminous e-mails and detailed essays on the dangers of ordering a hamburger in China (don’t even think about it) and preparing for conditions that sounded more like a camping trip in the jungle than a visit to an industrialized nation.

Although the warnings seemed a little extreme, what did we know: These people had been to China and we had not. As a precaution, my wife and I packed one large suitcase with nothing but energy bars for sustenance and assorted medical treatments for everything from scabies to snake bites, just in case. We wound up giving away all of the energy bars to the locals who thought they were candy bars, and donating all the medicine to the orphanage, though they were unsure if it would be used before expiration.

Read the whole thing.

Ay, Caramba! Those Kids Eat a Lot of Fajitas!

Adoptive parents gather to share experiences
PLAINFIELD, Ind. — It’s not every day you can walk into a Mexican restaurant in Central Indiana and see 20 Chinese children. That must mean it's Friday.

For just over a year, several local families have gathered at El Jaripeo in Plainfield every Friday night to visit and share like experiences of adoption.

The tradition began when Sandy and Michael Allen of Plainfield started having family time at the restaurant each week. They have six children, four of which they have adopted from China, Sandy Allen explained.

Sandy’s sisters have also adopted children from China and their families soon joined in on the Friday night outings.

The group was already large with several cousins coming together to visit when the Allens started extending the invitation to other friends who had adopted children from China or who were just interested in the process.

Indiana Adoption Story

Family grows through adoption
AVON, Ind. — AJ and Dawn Schneider now have one more thing to keep them busy: Lia, their new bundle of joy from China.

The Schneiders adopted their first child, Lily, from China in 2003. She was born Dec. 25, 2002, in the Hubei Province, Wuhan China.

“It’s been great working with the officials in China,” AJ said. “It can be a long and difficult wait, but it’s obviously well worth it.”

This time around, AJ traveled to China with his mother, Leslie Schneider, to meet their newest family member — Lia Jade Yangxi Schneider. She was born Nov. 18, 2005, in the Guangdong Province.